BOSTON (CBS) – It’s only been one day but the NCAA Tournament has already lived up to its “March Madness” nickname. The Boston Globe’s Michael Whitmer called Johnston & Flynn, filling in for Toucher & Rich on Friday, to discuss.
Having not recorded a win in the NCAA Tournament since former Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun headed Northeastern in 1982 to beat William & Mary, the Huskies put up a valiant fight Thursday afternoon against the No.3 seed Notre Dame Irish.
But it came down to the wire, and the Huskies came up just short. However, the Huskies did play better than what most people expected.
“They played Notre Dame real tough. I’m sure if you tell Northeastern head coach Bill Coen that they would have the ball inside ten seconds with a shot and chance to win, I’m sure they would have signed up for that,” Whitmer said.
“I think it’s a credit to good coaching. I’m sure with five or six minutes left and down by 10 or 12 points, you’d never really been in the NCAA Tournament before, I think a lot of teams might start jacking up three pointers and panicking a little bit. Northeastern didn’t do that. They kept running their stuff and forced a few turnovers, converted them on the end and really made it a game. They would have much preferred to win the game but they certainly recorded themselves quite well yesterday.”
The Irish defeating the Huskies in closing seconds was only the start of a crazy first day of the tournament. With the championship game a few weeks away, the craziness will certainly continue down the stretch.
“This is an event that almost always delivers doesn’t it? I think we had five one-point games yesterday, and two games went overtime. It’s one of those events that you’d like to root for the little guy because he always gets a chance on Thursday and Friday of the opening week to play a big power and we saw it yesterday. Two No. 14 seeds won and Northeastern could have won and had a good chance to win. Just a great opening tournament day and I hope it’s a sign of things to come,” Whitmer added.
With No.1 seed Kentucky riding on its undefeated streak, Whitmer thinks Villanova may have a shot to take them down after last night’s dominating performance against Lafayette.
“Some people have picked Villanova to be one of the few teams that can give Kentucky a game and beat them. Nova has a really good core of shooters and they can light it up from outside the perimeter. They got off to a great start yesterday and can certainly make it to the Final Four,” Whitmer said.
Although Nova has a good shot to beat the Wildcats, Whitmer sees Kentucky winning it all in the end.
“Kentucky doesn’t have many weaknesses. I’m not so sure if there is a team out there that can beat Kentucky. Kentucky is going to have to give an opponent that ends up beating them a lot of help by not playing up to their capability. They’re not indestructible, but it’s certainly Kentucky’s tournament to lose,” Whitmer said.
Listen below for some more Tournament talk!